4 Steps to Increase in Prophecy
1) Eagerly desire to prophesy as you pursue the Giver of this gift.
“Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy. 2 For one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God; for no one understands him, but he utters mysteries in the Spirit. 3 On the other hand, the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation…” 1 Corinthians 14:1ff ESV
2) Receive a prophet.
Those who submit their allegiance and their lives to Jesus Christ, receiving him as Savior and Lord, are adopted into God's honored family. After we are “born again,” God becomes our heavenly Father who likes to incentivize us (His children) with rewards. See John 1:12; Hebrews 11:6,26; Matthew 5:12,46; 6:4-6; 1 Corinthians 3:14; Revelation 2:7,11,17,26; 3:5,12,21. (1)
The following is just one of those reward incentives about which Jesus informs us: “The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet's reward, and the one who receives a righteous person because he is a righteous person will receive a righteous person's reward. 42 And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.”
Matthew 10:41-42 ESV
The following passage lists what is called the “five-fold ministry offices” that Jesus has gifted to the church:
“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.”
Ephesians 4:11-14 ESV
Receiving a prophet involves first identifying a genuine prophet by the spiritual fruit of his/her life. Do they demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit? Does what they say line up with the Word of God? Does what they say come to pass? Do their words encourage, edify, and comfort? Do they submit to the God-given authorities in their lives? After weighing and testing each prophecy in accordance with the guidelines established in the word of God, the church can be built up and better equipped for the work of ministry by receiving anointed, Holy Spirit-led prophets. (2)
3) Believe and declare the Word of God.
In Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost, he relayed a prophecy from the book of Joel:
“‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams;18 even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.”
Acts 2:17f ESV
These last days are from that day of Pentecost and right now until a great multitude from every language, tribe, ethnic group, and nation enter into a deep, personal, mature relationship with God through loyalty to Jesus Christ. (3) According to this above passage, we don’t have to have a five-fold office in order to prophesy. This privilege to prophesy is for every saint (believer in Jesus). After all, Ephesians 4:12 relegates the work of ministry to the saints, the “ordinary, title-less believers.” The job description of the five-fold offices is to better equip the saints to prophesy, to obey all Jesus’ commands, to do the same works and miracles as Jesus, to coach in righteousness so that we can better reflect the mature character and love of Jesus, etc.
Believing and declaring God’s commands and promises in regards to prophecy can be as simple as regularly saying aloud to God,
“Father, You say in Your word that in these last days that your sons and daughters will prophesy…’ Having been born again, I am your son/daughter according to Your word in John 1:12, Galatians 3:26ff; Romans 8:15ff; etc. These are the last days and You command me in 1 Corinthians 14:1 to eagerly desire to prophesy. Therefore I thank You for teaching me how to prophesy as I believe Your word and talk about your mighty deeds in my life to those around me. Thank You for how this will result in building up, encouraging, and consoling the people around me, so that they will know that You are the Lord and are inviting them into a relationship with You.
In Jesus’ name,
4) Share your testimony.
Revelation 19:10b ESV says, “For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” Paul wrote in Philemon 1:6 ESV, “and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ.” One’s testimony is a story about God’s miracle-working power in a person’s life, the greatest miracle in our lives being how He brought us into a personal relationship with Him.
Sharing such testimonies will open up opportunities to speak into people’s lives through prophecy, the purpose of which according to 1 Corinthians 14:3 is “for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation.” Our testimony likewise has the effect of taking out evil spirits from their entrenched positions of influence over people (see Revelation 12:11). People will be built up, encouraged, and consoled that if God could rescue, deliver, heal, forgive, and save you, then God (who does not show favoritism) is willing and able to be the Savior and Lord of their lives as well.
Since I eagerly desire to grow in prophecy and maturity in Christ, I will share my testimony here:
Big portions of my childhood I don’t remember. Perhaps part of that may be due to blood loss and resulting trauma on a couple occasions. I heard that once around kindergarten I was kicked in the back of the head under a table by a kid with thick boots, requiring emergency medical treatment and stitches. Throughout my childhood I would be beat up physically by my older brother, and once may have got more stitches around my left eye from having hit metal when thrown to the ground. Another time I was stabbed with a fork to the stomach.
After my own younger brother was born, for some reason I was consumed with a hatred or jealousy that I couldn’t shake. So greatly did I despise him that I would emotionally, verbally, and physically abuse him. It would be very hard for me not to do that when he neared my presence. Because I had received Jesus Christ into my life as Savior and Lord earlier, I knew that the way I treated my brother was wrong. Since I was memorizing Jesus’ teachings, I knew that I needed to change and not hate my brother any longer. (4)
One day a classmate invited me to a church service for young people, where I was quite intrigued and drawn by the love I sensed they had for God in their singing to Him, the way they talked about Him, and how they taught and respected the Bible. Near the end of the meeting, I started thinking about how I abused my younger brother and felt I should stop hating him, although I wasn’t entire sure how.
When the pastor up at the front of the church asked us to raise our hand if we hadn’t thought about Jesus’ death on the cross within the last couple weeks, I couldn’t remember for sure if I had or not, but suddenly I started to do just that. For the first time, I imagined Jesus bleeding on the cross and saw it connected to my abusing my younger brother. Also I pictured Jesus getting whipped and bruised while simultaneously remembering how I had been beaten and bruised by my older brother. I saw Jesus being mocked, ridiculed, and verbally abused as I envisioned how I had done the same to my younger brother.
Suddenly, as I was experiencing these thoughts and feelings about Jesus suffering what I suffered, the pastor said to come to the front of the church if we raised our hand. Thinking I had been caught raising my hand, I felt drawn to come up to the front. There some people put their hands on me and prayed for me. One of them asked God to “Take away his heart of stone and give him a heart of flesh.”
Words cannot do justice compared to the actual experience, which I might try to describe as the feeling of something like a warm, liquid wave of love, joy, and peace washing over me. In my mind’s eye, I simultaneously felt this incredible warmth come through me and wash out all my bitterness, hatred, anger, and trauma. I felt forgiven for all the abuse I had done to my younger brother as I imagined the blood of Jesus on the cross washing away all my shame, guilt, fear, and rage.
While receiving prayer up in front the church, I (and another random guy who had also come to the front) were also encouraged to open our mouths to speak in tongues, which are unknown languages from God when Jesus baptizes (immerses) us with God the Holy Spirit. At that time I didn’t understand what was happening very much, as I didn’t learn much about tongues then or for the next decade for that matter (until more recently in just the past couple years). In hindsight, however, such a “baptism of the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues” marked a major transition in my life after which I would become increasingly like Jesus.
Since that night, for instance, my rage, anger, and hatred towards my younger brother was gone. My social maturity increased. Whereas before that encounter with God, I would be paralyzed with fear, awkwardness, and feelings of inadequacy about talking to anybody or making friends at school, from then on I would be genuinely interested in getting to know people and would be far less hesitant to meet new people and to talk about life with them.
Before my experience of God’s love being poured into me by the Holy Spirit (see Romans 5:5), I also had trouble with speech, as I wasn’t yet fluent in English due to an “r/l” speech impediment. Many Japanese struggle with that same problem due to the Japanese language not having a distinct differentiation between “r” and “l” sounds, but I was raised in America. However, suddenly I got over my speech impediment as a result of experiencing the love and power of God.
Speaking in tongues has many incredible benefits for believers in Jesus Christ, for they help us connect deeply to the very heart of God the Father through His Holy Spirit whom He has given us (5). There was once a minister named John G. Lake who was caring for the dying masses during a plague in South Africa, burying many of the dead. Nevertheless, he remained healthy despite heavy bodily contact with the sick, dying, and dead from that plague. They hooked him up to an x-ray machine at a hospital and observed that whenever he spoke in tongues, the plague/disease would diminish and disappear from his body.
If you haven’t yet started a relationship with Jesus Christ that you may experience God’s wonderful plan for your life, the following is a suggested prayer: Father,
I want to know You personally and to experience Your wonderful plan for my life. Thank You that You have wonderful dreams for me for my welfare beyond all I can ask or imagine. I am sorry that I have sinned against You; I rebelled against You by doing things my own way. Straying from Your perfect will and plan for my life has only resulted in trouble and ultimately leads to death--eternal separation from You. Please rescue me from what I have become.
Thank You for sending Jesus Christ to demonstrate the kind of life that I ought to live and to die the death I deserved to die. Now I turn from my sins towards You. I confess with my mouth “Jesus is Lord,” my new King and Master whom I will obey and love with my whole life. Also I believe in my heart that You raised Jesus from the dead, proving that Jesus is victorious over all my sin, guilt, shame, fear, demons, curses, bondage, addiction, pride, and every thing that gets in the way of Your dreams for me. Thank You for forgiving me of my sin and for cleansing me from all unrighteousness, defilement, moral dirtiness, and spiritual oppression.
As I commit to following You will my whole life, loving You with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength, make me into the person You created me to be.
In Jesus’ name,
These and other verses are easy to read in list-form by typing “reward” and/or “conquers” into the search bar on biblegateway.com (ESV).
See Matthew 7:15-20; Galatians 5:22-23; 1 Thessalonians 5:19-21; 1 Corinthians 14:3,29-33
C.f. Matthew 24:14; 28:18-20; Revelation 5:9f; 7:9f.
For I was studying and thinking about passages such as Matthew 5:21-26 and 1 John 3:4-15.
See Mark 16:17; Romans 8:26ff; 1 Corinthians 2:9ff; 14:2-5; Jude 20; etc.